The Roman Empire at its height covered around 4.4 million square kilometres and ruled over almost a quarter of the world’s population. There was an extensive network of roads and it was possible to travel by sailing vessels on rivers, coastal waters, and open sea. Transportation was often expensive, when undertaken by a method other than foot, time consuming and sometimes dangerous.

In considering the missionary journeys of Paul, we are impressed by the challenges that he and his fellow travellers met in the various cities through which they travelled to preach the gospel. Perhaps, however, we do not appreciate how long and arduous was the actual travel.

A website at http://orbis.stanford.edu provides a handy means of determining the distance and travelling time between two places in the Roman Empire according to the means of transport and time of the year.

A tutorial provides clear instruction on how to operate the tool. In the example provided, the first stage of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey has been inserted: ie from Jerusalem (Ierusalem) to Antioch (Antiochia). The tool produced the result of a distance of 598 kilometres and a travelling time on foot of 19.9 days. The route is marked in the screenshot of the map.

By adding up the distances of each section of Paul’s journey, including the sea journeys, it is possible to calculate that his total journey was around 5740 kilometres, with a total travelling time of about 123 days.